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The Bourbon Thief is the guiltiest of guilty pleasure reads, but I don’t feel one bit guilty about how much I loved it.

Okay, that’s a lie. I worry about everything, constantly, even or perhaps especially about things I have no need whatsoever to worry about. High up on that list is a persistent, nagging fear that my reading isn’t serious enough, and that my growing insatiability for genre fiction which I’m less and less successfully ignoring is actually symptomatic of a deadening of my brain cells and a dulling of my personality in general. Even though I’ve been a lover of genre fiction pretty much my entire reading life (shout out to my middle school Mary Higgins Clark years! We had some good times!). Even though I would never in a million years judge another reader’s preference for it. Even though I’ve publicly promoted genre fiction of all stripes on this blog time and time again. Somehow, my brain goblins (thanks Adam for teaching me that term, as it’s super helpful sometimes to personify my unreasonable fears) keep trying to convince me that if I let myself off the leash and read exactly what I want, when I want, I won’t be the smart and smug person I’ve always thought I was. I’ll just be...I’m not sure what...a happy reader who enjoys her life?

Nah, that doesn’t sound like me. ;)

It’s time I got over this stupid bias once and for all. Intellectually I know, and have known for some time, that genre fiction can challenge, instruct, and inspire just as much as quote-unquote literary fiction can. And why is it so scary that my tastes are changing? Is it really that big a surprise, considering I’m not a graduate student or an English teacher anymore? Reading “for fun” is literally ALL my reading now. So why this urge to make it into an assignment, to go against my natural preferences, to avoid books like The Bourbon Thief that sound right up my alley?

It feels good to get that off my chest. Who knew choosing what books to read could be so flipping stressful? (Kidding. Kind of.)

The Bourbon Thief is addictively readable. I absolutely love the feeling of sitting down with a book and getting so absorbed in the story that I forget I’m reading. The book in your hand and the pages you’re turning fall away and you’re inside the story, watching it play out like a movie. I crave that sense of escape, and it happens far too infrequently the older I get. As I’m sure you can tell from my neurotic navel-gazing in the prior paragraphs, it’s very difficult for me to set aside my constant brain-chatter and just lose myself completely in a book. But this book...I couldn’t help getting sucked in. I was reading it at lunch during my workday, and when my hour was up, I was within about 20 pages of the end. AND I ALMOST LOST MY MIND, YOU GUYS. Putting that bookmark in and sticking that book back in my bag to be finished later was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t sit in a shared space with other people, I would have climbed under my desk to hide and finished those last 20 pages on company time, letting my legs fall asleep and batting computer cords out of my face. Fortunately, I have a really understanding husband, who didn’t take offense when I sat unresponsive at the dinner table that night, finishing those last 20 pages while he did the dishes. (That’s why we’re a team. High five.)

I now realize I’ve been chatting for like 30 minutes here without having told you anything concrete about this book. Basically, it all starts with a very expensive bottle of bourbon. A woman tries to steal it after a one-night stand, and when she’s caught, claims the bottle rightfully belongs to her and her family. Intrigued, the owner of the bottle agrees to let her stay and tell the story of the family behind the old, now-defunct bourbon distillery, and let me tell you, that story is a DOOZY. Sex! Lies! Intrigue! Murder! And a very successful, though ultimately doomed distillery with an even darker past.

I’ve gone a little off-script here today, so thanks for indulging me. If I can get my inner monologue to shut the hell up for a while, I’m looking forward to lots more fun reading like The Bourbon Thief in the future, without the side of guilt. All reading is good reading, can I get an amen?